He went with me when I took the first sailing trip of my life in Croatia. We crossed the North Sea together and sailed the Hebrides in Scotland. Together we could experience low points and high points of cruising sailing. We got to know each other at a motorcycle meeting.
In 2019, Christoph was last on board with us to tick an important bucket on his personal bucket list. He wanted to cross the Bay of Biscay on a sailing boat. We were able to fulfill his wish, Christoph accompanied us from Guernsey to Vigo in Spain, in the middle of the Bay of Biscay we were even able to observe two whales.
Today we received the news that Christoph recently passed away. Our thoughts are with his loved ones.
We had a bad night's sleep. The engine roared and the ship rolled in the waves. We were thrown back and forth in the bunks. We greet the morning tired and sleepy with plenty of coffee.
The motor drive continues for a few hours, around 10 a.m. we can finally set sail. This brings stability to the ship and dampens the rolling motion. For the next couple of hours we are busy keeping the Parasailor flying, the wind is so weak. Otherwise not much happens. There are only 80 miles to your destination in Spain, but these miles stretch like chewing gum.
At around 2 p.m. we can see the coastline in a shadow The mountains in Spain are high. The first fishing boats are crossing our course again. The water is now no longer 4000 meters deep, but only 400 meters. We switch mentally to “arrive” and look forward to the port.
At 3:30 p.m. the wind so fresh that we can no longer sail with the Parasailor. We exchange it for the genoa, then we continue with almost seven knots. Unfortunately the waves come from behind, Sissi rolls almost as strong as last night. Still, it feels light like we're flying over the waves.
We are tired but scratched up, we are almost behind the Bay of Biscay. However, it is not clear whether we will arrive before midnight. We have been traveling too slowly in the past two days.
The wind strength increases, there are seven to eight Beaufort. Sissi is getting faster and faster, as if she knew that we would like to invest soon. Before entering the Bay of Camarinas there are some dangerous rocks under water that we have to be aware of. Finally we see the driveway of the driveway, which marks the safe way for us. A small fishing boat comes towards us as we head into the bay. A few more meters and we will find a free space. It is Monday morning, 0:05 a.m.
We moor the boat and have a beer and a special whiskey. The Biscay is behind us. We made it. Then it goes to bed, we finally sleep well again. It was a total of 407.9 nautical miles.
The last night was foggy and damp. The benches in the cockpit are clammy when we sit up in the morning. The sky is cloudy and it is relatively cool. With the little wind we couldn't make too many miles, the new Etmal is 95 miles. The wind control system ensured that the batteries were not drained any further. Cheers to physics! Slowly we are mentally entering a mode in which we can also cross the Atlantic.
We only saw a few ships. A tanker that obviously drove aimlessly here and there with five knots. A sailboat from Madeira that we could just see on the horizon. Nothing else was going on. The Biscay is somewhat lonely in this corner. We are far from the major shipping routes.
During the day the wind hardly changes direction, it varies in strength. Sometimes there are only three wind speeds, then we sneak towards our destination with just under three knots. Sometimes there are four wind speeds, then we accelerate to an incredible five knots. Nevertheless, no one in our group feels like starting the engine, even though we now have enough diesel in the tank for the rest of the route. We enjoy the contemplative ride over the pleasant waves. The fridge slowly empties. We make a delicious goulash from the remaining fresh ingredients. We only bought fresh things for two days. For that we have canned food to America if need be
Unfortunately there were no more whales or dolphins to be seen. Sometimes we think we would drive over a whale if the depth gauge jumped again from “infinite” to 50 meters, stayed there for a few seconds and then showed “infinite” again. It's probably just schools of fish. No fish can bite on our troll despite the slow journey. Too bad. We would always take fresh fish.
Around 10 p.m. the wind completely leaves us. Set sail while Sissi rolls in the swell. The content of all cupboards crashes on cupboard doors and walls. We have to take the sails down so they don't break. We download a current weather forecast and see each other in the middle of a bottle hole. The noise is unbearable, the ship movements are unpleasant. We choose the wind from the tank. A few hours of motors.
The wind forecast for tomorrow again promises stronger wind from western directions. With that we could arrive in Camarinas on Sunday evening. 113 miles left.
After a starry night with falling stars, we see a completely kitschy sunrise with lots of pink. Us? Jens! Jens was on guard and was allowed to greet the sunrise while Christoph and I were still sleeping. The day is sunny, the wind is blowing with wind force 3 from the northeast, the Parasailor stands like a one. At around 10 a.m. we note the first time of 130 miles. This is a little more than we expected. We won't go that far in the next 24 hours because Sissi has slowed to just 4 knots. There is just no more in the wind.
One task for this day is to finally put the wind vane control into operation. The conditions are almost ideal for this. The wind is not too strong and always comes from one direction. We spent two hours learning how it works and taking small tuning measures on the boat. For example, the wire rope on the rudder quadrant was too tight, the rudder was too stiff for the wind pilot. That's all history now, Sissi's power consumption has halved and the excruciating squeak of the electric autopilot has ceased.
We are still on course for Spain and are looking forward to paella and tapas. On-board routine has set in. We take turns sleeping, but eat a warm meal together. After dinner we see several whales at a depth of 4000 meters. They can be driven at our speed and come up and blow often.
Around midnight the parasailor has to go down, the genoa is set. The wind has turned to our disadvantage and will continue to turn. Nevertheless, we hope to arrive in Spain on Sunday. There are only 190 miles left, half of it is almost done.
Au revoir la France. Day 1 of our crossing over the Biscay. We have 354 miles ahead of us, then we reach Spain. At around 10 a.m. we start the engine and leave Camaret-sur-Mer. First of all, nothing changes because the wind shines through absence. However, we trust the weather forecast and motor first through the many fishing boats and past the rocks off the coast.
The sea is calm. A long and soft swell lets Sissi go up and down a few meters. You only notice this when you are sitting in the cockpit and looking at the sea, you cannot feel it down in the salon.
Yesterday evening we met another German family who would also like to drive over the Biscay. You sail with the Roede Orm, an 11 meter yacht from Kiel. We sat together until almost midnight and discussed the weather forecast, beautiful bays in Spain and the further route to the Canary Islands. They want to stay in Camaret for a few more days and set off on Sunday.
The Parasailor is clear to set, we only need a little wind. The weakens and comes with only 4 kn from the predicted north direction. If the wind adheres to the forecast this time, we will be able to switch off the engine around 3 p.m.
At around 5 p.m. we can finally open the Parasailor and switch off the engine. Now we have enough wind. Calm returns to the ship, we enjoy the silence. Sissi gently rocks us in the waves. We are all in top shape and enjoy dinner.
At midnight the chart plotter shows a distance of only 290 miles to Spain. The direct course is on. The stars sparkle in the sky and a few dolphins jump out of the water next to Sissi. The nights at sea are great. The first day went well.